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The Man in the Iron Mask

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Dumas constructs the plot around the notion that the Man in the Iron Mask is the twin brother of Louis XIV, Philippe, who had been concealed and imprisoned from birth by his father, Louis XIII, and his mother, Anne of Austria, "for the good of France". Only a very few people living at the start of the novel know of Philippe's existence; these include his mother, Anne, and Dumas constructs the plot around the notion that the Man in the Iron Mask is the twin brother of Louis XIV, Philippe, who had been concealed and imprisoned from birth by his father, Louis XIII, and his mother, Anne of Austria, "for the good of France". Only a very few people living at the start of the novel know of Philippe's existence; these include his mother, Anne, and her former confidante, the Duchesse de Chevreuse. Chevreuse has let the secret slip to Aramis when they had an affair.


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Dumas constructs the plot around the notion that the Man in the Iron Mask is the twin brother of Louis XIV, Philippe, who had been concealed and imprisoned from birth by his father, Louis XIII, and his mother, Anne of Austria, "for the good of France". Only a very few people living at the start of the novel know of Philippe's existence; these include his mother, Anne, and Dumas constructs the plot around the notion that the Man in the Iron Mask is the twin brother of Louis XIV, Philippe, who had been concealed and imprisoned from birth by his father, Louis XIII, and his mother, Anne of Austria, "for the good of France". Only a very few people living at the start of the novel know of Philippe's existence; these include his mother, Anne, and her former confidante, the Duchesse de Chevreuse. Chevreuse has let the secret slip to Aramis when they had an affair.

30 review for The Man in the Iron Mask

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Homme au masque de fer = The man in the Iron mask, Alexandre Dumas The Man in the Iron Mask, is the name given to an unidentified prisoner who was arrested in 1669 or 1670 and subsequently held in a number of French prisons, including the Bastille and the Fortress of Pignerol. He was held in the custody of the same jailer, Bénigne Dauvergne de Saint-Mars, for a period of 34 years. He died on 19 November 1703 under the name "Marchioly", during the reign of King Louis XIV of France (1643–1715 Homme au masque de fer = The man in the Iron mask‬, Alexandre Dumas The Man in the Iron Mask, is the name given to an unidentified prisoner who was arrested in 1669 or 1670 and subsequently held in a number of French prisons, including the Bastille and the Fortress of Pignerol. He was held in the custody of the same jailer, Bénigne Dauvergne de Saint-Mars, for a period of 34 years. He died on 19 November 1703 under the name "Marchioly", during the reign of King Louis XIV of France (1643–1715). Since no one ever saw his face because it was hidden by a mask of black velvet cloth, the true identity of the prisoner remains a mystery; it has been extensively debated by historians, and various theories have been expounded in numerous books and films. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه آوریل سال 2001 میلادی عنوان: مردی در نقاب آهنین؛ نویسنده: الکساندر دوما؛ مترجم: علی فاطمیان؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، نشر چشم انداز : وزارت فرهنگ و ارشاد، سازمان چاپ و انتشارات؛ 1379، در 240 ص، مصور؛ شابک: 9644220730؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان فرانسوی سده 19 م، فرانسه ، تاریخ ، لوئی چهاردهم 1643 تا 1715 میلادی در روز نوزدهم ماه نوامبر سال 1703 میلادی، در زمان سلطنت لویی چهاردهم، پادشاه فرانسه، یک زندانی مرموز، که هماره ماسکی به چهره داشت در زندان باستیل می‌میرد. چند روز پس از آن رخداد، مرد ناشناس را با نام: «مارشیالی» در گورستان «سن پل پاریس» دفن میکنند. این پایان سرنوشت تلخ یک انسان بیگناه بود. هشت سال پس از مرگ مرد ماسک آهنین، پرنسس پالاتین، زن برادر پادشاه فرانسه، ادعا میکند، او یک لرد انگلیسی بود، که علیه فرانسه توطئه میکرد. از آن پس، افسانه و ادبیات، به شخصیت او پرداخته، و او را تحت نام: «مردی با ماسک آهنین»، به شهرت میرسانند. در واقعیت، این مرد ناشناس، که هرگز فردی چهره اش را ندیده بود، یک ماسک از جنس مخمل، به چهره داشت، و نه یک ماسک آهنین، و گفته میشد: به دستور لویی چهاردهم، پادشاه فرانسه، او محکوم بود، همواره حتی هنگام خواب، ماسک را به چهره داشته باشد. «سن مارس»، در طول سی و پهار سال همواره مراقب اجرای این دستور لویی چهاردهم بود. درباره ی هویت این زندانی،، فرضیه های بسیاری وجود دارند. آیا همانگونه که ولتر ادعا کرده بود، او برادر دوقلوی لویی چهاردهم بود؟ یا براساس برخی شایعات، فرزند نامشروع پادشاه فرانسه بود؟ یا اینکه دوک دوبوفور، کنت دو ورماندوا یا فوکه، خزانه دار مغضوب شاه بود؟ آیا او…؟. ا. شربیانی

  2. 4 out of 5

    Apatt

    Parbleu! Morbleu! Corboeuf! Ma foi! Mordioux! Not to mention Cordieu! (I think they are variations of OMG). I usually prefer to know as little as possible about the book I am about to read, including avoid reading the synopsis, or if I have read the synopsis in order to decide whether to read the book I try to forget it (and do very well in the forgetting department, there is a character in this book called M. Fouquet, a name I would like to adopt for future social media shenanigans). Anyway, sometimes Parbleu! Morbleu! Corboeuf! Ma foi! Mordioux! Not to mention Cordieu! (I think they are variations of OMG). I usually prefer to know as little as possible about the book I am about to read, including avoid reading the synopsis, or if I have read the synopsis in order to decide whether to read the book I try to forget it (and do very well in the forgetting department, there is a character in this book called M. Fouquet, a name I would like to adopt for future social media shenanigans). Anyway, sometimes this policy backfires. I thought The Man in the Iron Mask was the final volume of The D'Artagnan Romances, alas I was only one third right, The Man in the Iron Mask is the final part of a much longer book, The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later. However, it is the best known part and published in the UK separately as a separate book. This means that I missed out on quite a lot of backstory and plot developments. Fortunately, The Man in the Iron Mask can be read without much difficulty outside of its parent book. You should, however, at least read The Three Musketeers first. Anyway, by the time I realized my mistake I was already well into the book and I didn’t feel like backtracking. The Man in the Iron Mask is set thirty-five years after The Three Musketeers. In that first book of The D'Artagnan Romances, D’Artagnan was something of a young cocky upstart musketeer, in this book he is in his fifties and the renowned captain of the king's musketeers. His three ex-musketeer BFFs, Aramis, Porthos and Athos, are also of advancing years and living lives of luxury. None of these three are working for King Louis XIV, not having much of a taste for this king who—from his playboy-like behavior—seems unworthy of their services and loyalty. In fact, Aramis is so unimpressed that he elaborately plots to replace Louise with his identical twin brother Philippe, his plan goes smoothly up to a point, the king is put in prison at Bastille and secretly replaced with Philippe. Unfortunately, he then makes the fatal error of confiding in Superintendent M. Fouquet, who, as a stick in the mud an honorable man, refuses to allow the rightful king to be treated so shabbily. Fouquet goes off to rescue Louis XIV from Bastille, while Aramis makes a run for it, accompanied by poor, trusting Porthos, his unwitting coconspirator. Looking like Leonardo DiCaprio the king is not always a good thing. You may be thinking I am spoiling the book terribly with the above summary but The Man in the Iron Mask is so densely plotted I have barely scratched the surface of the entire plot. It is not surprising that Dumas was so popular and remains so to this day, the man really knew how to write a fast pace narrative when he wants to, this book is stuffed to the gills with action and intrigues. The scene of D’Artagnan chasing M. Fouquet on horseback is particularly hair-raising, and the conclusion of the chase confounded my expectations. There are several other scenes of similar intensity, but, for me, this one is the most badass. Dumas’ skill with character development is remarkable. His main characters are all lively, vibrant and believable. Of the original three musketeers the only real mover and shaker is Aramis, who is too clever and ambitious for his own good. His ingenious subterfuges and elaborate schemes are both audacious and hilarious in execution. Porthos is his lovable, not too bright, faithful sidekick who follows him blindly to his own detriment; as for Athos, he does not have much to do in the narrative except growing old and sad. The series’ hero, D’Artagnan, is loyal to the king to a fault, he would carry out the king's orders even if he knows them to be wrong and that innocents will suffer. However, he finally draws the line at killing any of his Three Musketeers friends. The Man in the Iron Mask is much darker in tone than The Three Musketeers. Several good characters come to a bad end through no fault of their own. Philippe’s fate is particularly miserable (though there is no real evidence that the real historical mysterious Man in the Iron Mask is in anyway related to the king). While the book is a great read, I believe it suffers a bit from being serialized. As authors of serialized books are paid by the word it often cause them to overwrite (hello Mr. Dickens!). Dumas overwrote some parts which drag on unnecessarily, and some of the subplots do not really go anywhere, and have little relationship to the main storyline. Still, the book kept my interest throughout. The writing is a thing of beauty though the dialogue is over elaborate at times. It has been decades since I read The Three Musketeers (this is my first reading of The Man in the Iron Mask) and it makes me want to reread it soon. Notes: • Fabulous Librivox free audio book, read by Mark F. Smith. Amazing job! Different character voices, and narrated with plenty of passion and enthusiasm. Thank you so much! • I always thought the title of The Three Musketeers was something of a misnomer, as the book was about four of them; though it could be argued that it is really about D'Artagnan’s encounter and friendship with them. However, The Man in the Iron Mask is even more of a misnomer because the eponymous Man (poor Phillippe) is barely in the narrative, and by the second half of the book Dumas seems to have lost interest in him. I have no idea who to credit for the translation of this public domain edition. It seems very good in term of conveying the story, whether it is a good translation of Dumas’ original text I am not in a position to evaluate. Quotes: “Then if you wish me to tell what crime I have committed, explain to me in what a crime consists. For as my conscience does not accuse me, I aver that I am not a criminal.” “M. Mouston, whose personal corpulency, quite enough at any time to hide one man from another, was effectually doubled by a scarlet coat which the intendant was holding up for his master's inspection, by the sleeves, that he might the better see it all over.” “D'Artagnan recoiled, as though the sesquipedalian syllables had knocked the breath out of his body.” Driven insane by his undeserved incarceration, Philippe sayz "Come On Feel The Noize!"

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bridgette Redman

    It pains me to write this because I am, at heart, a print person. My paycheck depends on people wanting and buying printed materials. But this is one instance where the movie far outshines the book and I'm glad there was a screenwriter with a vision to see beyond this dismal book. I had just read Three Musketeers by Dumas when I read this book. Perhaps it was the pleasure I took in this early book that spoiled Man in the Iron Mask. Man in the Iron Mask starts out well. Ther It pains me to write this because I am, at heart, a print person. My paycheck depends on people wanting and buying printed materials. But this is one instance where the movie far outshines the book and I'm glad there was a screenwriter with a vision to see beyond this dismal book. I had just read Three Musketeers by Dumas when I read this book. Perhaps it was the pleasure I took in this early book that spoiled Man in the Iron Mask. Man in the Iron Mask starts out well. There is all the chivalry and twice the intrigue of Dumas' earlier works. The dialog is fantastic with politics twisting every meaning and clearly communicating the rancor of the time. There is a fantastic scene with Porthos, Aramis and the tailor that made me laugh aloud. I truly like Dartangan, for he displays chivalry and honor even when ordered to do things against his honor. Then the book starts to go downhill. Characters that one would think were essential to the book disappear midway through and are never heard from again. Aramis becomes less and less sympathetic until we finally view him as merely a court toady who cared little for the sacrifice of his friends. There are moments in this book; moments of passion, of grief, of love. But they are merely moments. Eventually the book becomes so ponderous, one must force oneself to continue. There are few characters to like in this book. They get themselves into situations for stupid reasons and are too self-centered to get out of them. Sacrifices are made for foolish reasons.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Krystal

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. (view spoiler)[ SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS How can I possibly write this review without SPOILERS when my HEART IS BROKEN INTO A THOUSAND PIECES. I miss you already, my brave Musketeer friends! I am not someone who cries easily - the only series that's ever made me cry was Stephen King's The Dark Tower. Prior to this brutal book. I feel like I have experienced the death of friends. And I feel such profound grief over these loyal, lifelong friends being sepa (view spoiler)[ SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS How can I possibly write this review without SPOILERS when my HEART IS BROKEN INTO A THOUSAND PIECES. I miss you already, my brave Musketeer friends! I am not someone who cries easily - the only series that's ever made me cry was Stephen King's The Dark Tower. Prior to this brutal book. I feel like I have experienced the death of friends. And I feel such profound grief over these loyal, lifelong friends being separated. Oh Porthos! You mighty giant! Athos, noble friend! And D'Artagnan, the Captain who won my heart from page one. Aramis, how will you live with only one fourth of your soul?? How will I live?? Oh, right. I'll probably just re-read the first book over and over again. Sigh. Sniffle. (hide spoiler)] Ok. Let me try to properly review the novel that concludes the chronicles of the greatest friendship of all time. For a novel that claims to be about a tyrant king and his struggle for the throne against his identical brother, that's actually a pretty minor part of this novel. In fact, that whole storyline feels pretty incomplete by the end of the novel, but perhaps that's just because it's actually concluded so early that it seems to suggest further intrigue. However, I'm not complaining. These musketeers have the most epic bromance of all time and I love reading about it, especially in that typical Dumas way where they can be fighting for completely different things and still be loyal, honest and true to their friendship. This is more about how, despite the different paths their lives have taken, their friendship has endured. There are some absolutely gut-wrenching moments and I caught myself reading open-mouthed on several occasions. This has all the action of The Three Musketeers, but it's a much darker setting than the original, with much more villainy. Time has caught up with our friends and the original cast has mostly moved on to make way for others less appealing, making the France we return to appear almost as a washed out painting of former glory. The action is much easier to follow than that of the intervening novels, so the pace matches that of the first novel. While the language is elegant and lengthy enough to sometimes lose track of the meaning, I never once lost the thread of the story. It's utterly absorbing, the way words can be used to communicate feeling and evoke vision. That being said, this particular version was terribly translated. I miss the cries of "Mon dieu!' and the various phrases that sounded so much better in French, the meanings of which always made perfect sense in their contexts. This translation made me cringe every time I had to read my 17th Century musketeers saying 'c'mon' and other such ugly, modern phrases. Dumas is my favourite author for a reason. He manipulates words beautifully but uses them to tell stories full of action, intrigue, heroes and adventure. I always feel devastated when I remember he's no longer around to be producing works of such unique calibre. This is a glorious conclusion to the series, but it's not for the faint of heart. Still, what kind of friends would we be if we abandoned our musketeer companions before their story concluded? Read my most recent review here.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sesana

    Perhaps the most surprising thing about The Man in the Iron Mask, to me, was just how quickly the title subplot was dealt with. Then again, this was not originally called The Man in the Iron Mask. This is the last chunk in a larger book. I can see why it gets cut up like that. This part alone was over 400 pages. And the introduction gave a coherent enough synopsis of what came before that I could follow. Maybe I should have read it all, since I do like reading Dumas the elder. Back in Perhaps the most surprising thing about The Man in the Iron Mask, to me, was just how quickly the title subplot was dealt with. Then again, this was not originally called The Man in the Iron Mask. This is the last chunk in a larger book. I can see why it gets cut up like that. This part alone was over 400 pages. And the introduction gave a coherent enough synopsis of what came before that I could follow. Maybe I should have read it all, since I do like reading Dumas the elder. Back in the 90s, I saw the movie version, the one with Leonardo DiCaprio. Because Leo was soooo dreamy. And wow, did it ever depart from the source material. Sure, I expected that, but maybe not quite to that extent. I'm sure it doesn't surprise anyone that I think the original was far and away better. One of the things that I really liked, and was really surprised by, in The Three Musketeers was the level of nuance in the characters. Opposing a protagonist does not make a character evil, and an opponent can become a friend. It's refreshing, and far more realistic. But the ending is one hell of a downer, I have to say. It doesn't bother me, but it's something to keep in mind before you dive in.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Krystal

    My insignificant words can hardly do justice to my love for this book, so I'll keep it short. You can read my original review here. If you are curious about this book because you're familiar with the title, or saw the (terrible) movie, or have read The Three Musketeers and can't be bothered with everything that comes in between, please don't bother with this book. You've hardly earned it, and as such it'll ring hollow for you. If, however, you have loyally followed our musketeer friend/>You My insignificant words can hardly do justice to my love for this book, so I'll keep it short. You can read my original review here. If you are curious about this book because you're familiar with the title, or saw the (terrible) movie, or have read The Three Musketeers and can't be bothered with everything that comes in between, please don't bother with this book. You've hardly earned it, and as such it'll ring hollow for you. If, however, you have loyally followed our musketeer friends over their 40 years of adventures; if you can comprehend the significance of Athos showing weakness, of Aramis's tears, of the words 'too heavy' ... read, and do justice to our friends by allowing their stories to conclude. This is the book where four inseparable, energetic men find that time and politics have finally caught up with them. It's absolutely gut-wrenching at times to see how their stories have been influenced. This book will live forever in my heart, as will its heroes.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mya

    It was not as bad as you would have expected it to be.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Wreade1872

    I was reluctant to read this due to the ubiquity of the Musketeers and because for whatever reason i had assumed Dumas to be a high-brow difficult author. Boy was i wrong, this had such an easy almost pulpy tone to it, perhaps a tad hard to parse during some dialogue but overall very smooth and a nice style. I was in, the first 20% was 5-stars even with some interruptions to worldbuild, but then after a climax it suddenly switches characters. Which it will continue to do throughout the nove I was reluctant to read this due to the ubiquity of the Musketeers and because for whatever reason i had assumed Dumas to be a high-brow difficult author. Boy was i wrong, this had such an easy almost pulpy tone to it, perhaps a tad hard to parse during some dialogue but overall very smooth and a nice style. I was in, the first 20% was 5-stars even with some interruptions to worldbuild, but then after a climax it suddenly switches characters. Which it will continue to do throughout the novel as there isn't actually any main character. Its a terrible structure where the momentum drops at each switch and has to start to build up again. Still Dumas manages to make it work, and the awful structure does at least mean you never know what might happen next. Dumas even gets some use out of Raoul, the most worthless of side characters, in his first major section at least. So not 5-stars but still a solid 4... until we reach the conclusion, if i can use that term since its about 10 chapters long. One major character (view spoiler)[the King! (hide spoiler)] goes through a complete personality switch for no reason and the rest is just turgid wrapping up and politic history lessons and absolutely none of it has anything to do with the actual title of the book. An 80% of good to great with a soft squidgy mess at the end. Like driving a sports car into a swamp.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ensiform

    Edited and annotated by David Coward, from an older translation. Well, the mammoth saga of the once-invincibles comes to a rather sad end. Porthos dies because his strength gives out. Aramis flees France in disgrace because his schemes come to ruin. And Athos dies because the one thing dearer to him to God, his son, leaves his company to go die in the Africa campaigns under the Duke of Beaufort. And d’Artagnan – well, d’Artagnan’s star does not decline under the sun king, but that’s only because Edited and annotated by David Coward, from an older translation. Well, the mammoth saga of the once-invincibles comes to a rather sad end. Porthos dies because his strength gives out. Aramis flees France in disgrace because his schemes come to ruin. And Athos dies because the one thing dearer to him to God, his son, leaves his company to go die in the Africa campaigns under the Duke of Beaufort. And d’Artagnan – well, d’Artagnan’s star does not decline under the sun king, but that’s only because this once so haughty Gascon spirit humbles itself rather abjectly before the iron will of Louis (chapter 81, simply and appropriately titled “King Louis XIV”). I have one complaint with this action-packed adventure, during which in the course of 570 pages the suspense hardly slackens. Why did Aramis, General of the Jesuits, master planner always with an out at his disposal, admit defeat instantly when Fouquet announced he would denounce him? Up to that point, Fouquet had been a pawn of Aramis. Suddenly, Aramis had to flee for his life on the word alone of Fouquet. Well, maybe it was the onset of age that weakens Aramis’ resolve.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    I wish I could give this three stars, but this book truly was "just okay." The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After must be read before this book, otherwise you will be very confused. I'm surprised that The Man in the Iron Mask is more famous than Twenty Years After (although neither are good stand-alone novels; they really require reading the previous novels first) because I found TYA to be much more humorous, more exciting, and more engaging all around. The only thing I liked more about TMitIM is that the particul I wish I could give this three stars, but this book truly was "just okay." The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After must be read before this book, otherwise you will be very confused. I'm surprised that The Man in the Iron Mask is more famous than Twenty Years After (although neither are good stand-alone novels; they really require reading the previous novels first) because I found TYA to be much more humorous, more exciting, and more engaging all around. The only thing I liked more about TMitIM is that the particular translation I read, which is much newer than the translation of TYA that I had read, made for smooth and easy reading. (The translations of TTM and TYA I read were tiring to read at times.) The last ~300 pages of TMitIM are not very interesting, although I will give Dumas credit for always writing good "death and grieving" scenes. I read this trilogy because The Count of Monte Cristo is my favorite book and I was hoping for something similar, but these three books are nothing like it. The first two are humorous, light-hearted, and adventurous, but the last one (TMitIM) is not particularly engaging and its only purpose seems to be to conclude the story and lives of the four protagonists.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Magnificent, incredible, et cetera. I can't overstate how much I loved this story. I think Dumas is among the most entertaining of the classical writers. A huge cast of character and an epic story full of love, hate, friendship, betrayal, politics and actions. A favorite of mine.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    I didn't know how to review this book and just started writing randomly until some thoughts about the book illuminated me and I could write some a proper rant about this book review. So, here it is. First, I never really figured out it was part of a series "The D'Artagnan Romances", so when I found this book free for being public domain I couldn't stop myself and got it immediately. I was really excited to start this book. I don't really remember the movie but I remember I liked it, that's why I thought/>So, I didn't know how to review this book and just started writing randomly until some thoughts about the book illuminated me and I could write some a proper rant about this book review. So, here it is. First, I never really figured out it was part of a series "The D'Artagnan Romances", so when I found this book free for being public domain I couldn't stop myself and got it immediately. I was really excited to start this book. I don't really remember the movie but I remember I liked it, that's why I thought I would absolutely adore this book. I thought this book was going to be about Phillipe, the man in the iron mask and how he was being punished that way because the king Louis XIV wouldn't risk his royalty, and the battle to free him, something like that. The truth is this book was more about the musketeers and the man in the iron mask is only a subplot of it. I didn't really enjoy the story, only in parts, small moments in the overall story that took forever to get to, and I can't find that appealing at all. I can't be bored reading for one hour and only enjoy 3 minutes of it, that's not what I call entertaining or interesting. I really cannot give it more than 2 stars. I'm not sure if it has to do with the fact that I didn't read The Three Musketeers or Twenty Years After first, but I just didn't find the characters likeable at all, probably that's why I didn't like this book more. There were some parts that I didn't understand and just feel stupid for some reason. For example: Aramis plotted all the thing to switch the king with the prisoner, and did it amazing, it worked, and then he has to go to M. Fouquet and tell him everything he did, so he would go and spoil everything. Why did he do that??? It doesn't make any sense! I mean, he goes there and says that he will tell him everything because he's a friend and he doesn't want to hide anything, but he knows if he do that he will go and liberate Louis XIV from the prison and send Phillipe back to it... That's not NOT right! If Aramis is so damn cunning that he could manage to switch them without anyone noticing, it doesn't make any sense why he went to reveal everything... And that's about the most interesting thing that happens in this book, the rest is boring and I didn't like it. And obviously this makes me mad.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John (Taloni) Taloni

    Curiously unengaging. The "Man in the Iron Mask" is dispensed with in the first half of the book. I read the other D'Artagnan Romances following Three Musketeers so that I could approach this book fully informed. I expected a juggernaut. Well, Count of Monte Cristo delivered on its promise, but this book did not. The action largely trails off unsatisfactorily. Porthos is presented for comedy except for a moment of tragedy. The action is largely French against French. Louis XIV seems to be a comp Curiously unengaging. The "Man in the Iron Mask" is dispensed with in the first half of the book. I read the other D'Artagnan Romances following Three Musketeers so that I could approach this book fully informed. I expected a juggernaut. Well, Count of Monte Cristo delivered on its promise, but this book did not. The action largely trails off unsatisfactorily. Porthos is presented for comedy except for a moment of tragedy. The action is largely French against French. Louis XIV seems to be a complete jerk. Proud D'Artagnan humbles himself. As history it is fairly interesting, and Dumas does a good job of displaying the historical events. He is an engaging writer, and this book does continue the feel of being there. It is not a bad book, just not as good as it is made out to be. Additionally, since D'Artagnan and the Three Musketeers are displayed against actual history, a nodding knowledge of history will show that some desired plot points could never come to pass. Fouquet struggles in vain; Raoul's love for Louise de la Valliere is impossible. The plot points come together too easily at the end. This is a pat end to characters that have had their ups and downs in uneven works by Dumas. At their height they are truly engaging. To end as they did is a cop out. I felt that Dumas realized he had to end this serial and just phoned in the ending. It's free on gutenberg.org and the reading goes quickly, so read this as a painless romp through French history. Just don't expect the quality of other Dumas works.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Fred Klein

    FINALLY!!!! The D'Artagnan series ends with a great novel. The other entries since "The Three Musketeers" were unbalanced: too much political intrigue or too much romance (the latter applies especially to "Louise de Valliere") and -- worst of all -- the disappearance of the Musketeers for hundreds of pages. "The Man In The Iron Mask" strikes a perfect balance. It's all there: the intrigue, the romance, the swashbuckling. And the Musketeers are all back as main characters, not as side characters FINALLY!!!! The D'Artagnan series ends with a great novel. The other entries since "The Three Musketeers" were unbalanced: too much political intrigue or too much romance (the latter applies especially to "Louise de Valliere") and -- worst of all -- the disappearance of the Musketeers for hundreds of pages. "The Man In The Iron Mask" strikes a perfect balance. It's all there: the intrigue, the romance, the swashbuckling. And the Musketeers are all back as main characters, not as side characters in other people's stories. I would have liked Dumas to wrap up some stories more completely, such as that of the "man in the iron mask" of the title, but you can't have everything.

  15. 5 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    Everyone in the book lives behind an iron mask-built of honor first and foremost. Honor is first before riches or political place or family or work. I am torn. As much as I am in love with the Musketeers I cannot accept the code of honor they live by. Because they adhere so religiously to their honor code they are led into life threatening and adventurous episodes which entertain in reading but left me mystified by the underlying dismal outcomes in most cases. The characters who followed the fas Everyone in the book lives behind an iron mask-built of honor first and foremost. Honor is first before riches or political place or family or work. I am torn. As much as I am in love with the Musketeers I cannot accept the code of honor they live by. Because they adhere so religiously to their honor code they are led into life threatening and adventurous episodes which entertain in reading but left me mystified by the underlying dismal outcomes in most cases. The characters who followed the fashion of honor in the book series about the 17th century French Musketeers were all most pleased with themselves on that score and often had only their "honor" to comfort them when being honorable laid waste to their families, friends and fortunes. Our century's definition of satisfying honor is not about sacrificing all to it. Western culture anyway finds honor in sacrificing one to save many (remember Spock's death?). Since the actual event of the man being masked is such a small part of the book I think my guess that the title is meant more metaphysically than literally is correct. Regardless, while the books entertain with adventure war sword fights romantic love silly and admirable and evil characters, along with thoughtful road trips into religion politics wealth aristocrat and servant relationships marriage, honor is the air, water, food, shelter and emotion underpinning all motivations, even those with selfish mean or evil intentions. The only characters not given any sympathy by the author are those who behave without any of the aspects of honor as honor is believed to be in these books. Dumas forgives all else with understanding. The other thing I noticed is how heroic the heroes noticed themselves being by which they gave themselves permission to do everything. This kind of heroics seemed shockingly self-centered at times sacrificing a hell of a lot needlessly in reality while our heroes glowed with self-appreciation. The musketeers are delusional with heroic intentions and ignore the actual failures of their heroism half of the time. I would have had more fun in reading if I was a kid and male. As it was, my irritation with the cultural blindness so ably represented in these novels got in the way of my enjoyment. But I still felt grief for the characters too when I was supposed to as well as joy when they had success or fun. These guys are lovable to the max. For a reader on top this book is the last chapter of the Musketeers now in their 60's still living with honor at the end of their careers. Underneath is disquiet at the messiness of real heroes in a real world. (yes, I know it's a novel, but while it's a romantic history it's also NOT a fantasy or a Superman comic. The author wanted real people in the real world of the 17th century.) Dumas admired his heroes without reservations I think. Not so me, but I liked the adventure.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    4.5★ Having finally read the entire series, I found that I liked this final section even more. Some sections that I previously thought a bit dull or unrelated I now realize where the continuation or wrapping up of things that had happened previously. Several of the relationships, such as that between Raoul & Louise, are not at all clear if you read this as a stand-alone but make perfect sense having read the previous parts of "Vicomte de Bragelonne; or Ten Years Later". However the book is still 4.5★ Having finally read the entire series, I found that I liked this final section even more. Some sections that I previously thought a bit dull or unrelated I now realize where the continuation or wrapping up of things that had happened previously. Several of the relationships, such as that between Raoul & Louise, are not at all clear if you read this as a stand-alone but make perfect sense having read the previous parts of "Vicomte de Bragelonne; or Ten Years Later". However the book is still a fun read even lacking the nuances of these relations as long as you know "The Three Musketeers" 4 main characters. One thing I had forgotten was how sad this book ends up being. I was feeling a bit annoyed in the middle that (view spoiler)[Louis XIV wasn't left in the Bastille and Phillipe on the throne, especially after Louis' behaviour towards Fouquet in the second half of the book. (hide spoiler)] But upon reflection, Dumas chose the more realistic path and allowed the characters to show their sense of honor or lack thereof. I remain saddened by the division between the 4 friends which is only partially healed in the end. Poor Aramis (view spoiler)[tried to become another Richelieu and failed. It is interesting that the musketeer who started off as the most devout ended up being the most corrupted by ambition while the one who started off with the most ambition ended up the most dutiful to his moral obligations. So sad that d'Artagnan dies just as he is about to achieve the one ambition left to him! (hide spoiler)] For those unaware, Dumas' mammoth third book in the d'Artagnan series ("Vicomte de Bragelonne; or Ten Years Later") is generally divided into several volumes, most commonly 3 or 4. Unfortunately, these volumes usually have the same name even though they cover slightly different material. This book is covers the material in the 4th volume of a 4 volume edition. I also listened to the Blackstone audiobook edition narrated by Simon Vance which is the final volume of a 3 volume edition (and also a slightly different translation although the translation information is not provided). For those wanting to read this classic as a stand-alone, I would recommend the 4 volume edition -- the 3 volume edition contains about 30% more material at the beginning (covered in my 3rd volume "Louise de la Valliere") which only minimally helps understand the relationships I mentioned above and lacks the adventure and action of the first & last parts.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a superb novel -- and a frequently misunderstood one. The Man in the Iron Mask is only tangentially about the mysterious masked figure. I have read this book so long ago, and in the interval I have seen several filmed version of the story which turned it into a novel of derring-do, as if it were a young man's book, like The Three Musketeers. No, Alexandre Dumas had other fish to fry. He had done adventure. Here, he writes about a most solemn subject: The end of life. Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D This is a superb novel -- and a frequently misunderstood one. The Man in the Iron Mask is only tangentially about the mysterious masked figure. I have read this book so long ago, and in the interval I have seen several filmed version of the story which turned it into a novel of derring-do, as if it were a young man's book, like The Three Musketeers. No, Alexandre Dumas had other fish to fry. He had done adventure. Here, he writes about a most solemn subject: The end of life. Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan are not young men in any of the sequels to The Three Musketeers. In The Man in the Iron Mask, two of the Musketeers, Aramis and Porthos, commit an act of derring-do: They attempt to replace Louis XIV with his brother, a prisoner in the Bastille. But the whole plot backfires, and Louis undergoes a change of personality, becoming more decisive and powerful, partly thanks to his new Superintendent of Finances, Colbert. With this change, the Musketeers become relics in a time and place that they have ceased to understand. Attending the double funeral of Athos and his son, the Vicomte de Bragelonne, d'Artagnan begins to muse about his own mortality: The captain [d'Artagnan] watched the departure of the horses, horsemen, and carriage; then crossing his arms upon his swelling chest, "When will it be my turn to depart?" said he, in an agitated voice, "What is there left for man after youth, after love, after glory, after friendship, after strength, after riches? That rock, under which sleeps Porthos, who possessed all I have named; this moss, under which repose Athos and Raoul [de Bragelonne], who possessed still much more!" He hesitated a moment with a dull eye; then, drawing himself up, "Forward! still forward!" said he. "When it shall be time, God will tell me, as he has told others."And yet the book is crammed full of adventures. It is just that entropy has reared its ugly head, and the eternal youth and joy of the Four Musketeers does eventually come to an end.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Maricarmen Estrada M

    After all the adventures of D'Artagnan, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, it's impossible not to fall in love with these characters. Their friendship, courage, loyalty, fidelity, and honor are the thread that conducts all the deeds, intrigues and adventures they go through. In The Man in the Iron Mask we set out on the last journey for the four musketeers.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Boyd

    The last of the Three musketeers stories. This is my least favorite of the 3 books written by Dumas. The writing, as in the other 2, is dated and in places drags. Overall the story didn't seem as fast paced as the other books. Recommended

  20. 4 out of 5

    Minatsuki Saya

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. -Taking the idea of 'twins seperated at birth' to another level. (I think this idea didn't even exist at the time.) -My dear honest, worthy Porthos!! And his servant💔 such men don't exist nowadays 😞😞 -The relationship between Athos and Rauul resembles that of two spiritually connected and can always feel one another. A kind of relationship which only exists between twins or a father/mother and son. One might think they were week (and sad too of course) but such is the case with honest men w -Taking the idea of 'twins seperated at birth' to another level. (I think this idea didn't even exist at the time.) -My dear honest, worthy Porthos!! And his servant💔 such men don't exist nowadays 😞😞 -The relationship between Athos and Rauul resembles that of two spiritually connected and can always feel one another. A kind of relationship which only exists between twins or a father/mother and son. One might think they were week (and sad too of course) but such is the case with honest men when they love. They give their life to their beloved and can not love another. I like to believe that what happened with Athos and Rauul happened after at least a year of Porthos's death because I can't take it all at once :( -I really can't comprehend the development of Louis's Character all I understand is that he is really ungrateful just like his mother and Maria Teresa deserved better. I was really waiting for the queen mother to die but everyone else died unfortunately. Louis after spending that terrible night at the bastile still ventures to send people there! -M. F. (Can't spell his name) was a really honest man "deserves to be called an honest gentleman" and he lives up to my standards. While Aramis was so intimidating and overconfident. You feel that nothing can stop him, like he has no heart, but he has payed for all when he lost Porthos. Excuse my spelling for English is not my first language (neither is French) I listened to the English translation by William Robson and he did a great job the vocabulary is so good, so rich that it leaves an impression even in the most boring parts. I loved them all specially the captain and Rauul 😭 Edit: Forgot to mention that I am not accustomed to all the royal etiqutte and therefor found it sometimes hard to perceive when someone should feel offended and so on. I also expected to know more about Rauul's mother :(

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brent Ranalli

    **spoilers** "Disappointed" would be too strong a word: I enjoyed this last installment of the D'Artagnan romances. But I found it less compelling than expected, less compelling than, for example, much-maligned book 3.2 (LdLV), which brilliantly ramps up the tension of court intrigue and then explodes. Why is 3.3 not so compelling? 1. Bragelonne's love-sickness to death stops being pitiable and merely becomes pathetic. He should have done like his father and taken to drink. 2. Fouquet is se **spoilers** "Disappointed" would be too strong a word: I enjoyed this last installment of the D'Artagnan romances. But I found it less compelling than expected, less compelling than, for example, much-maligned book 3.2 (LdLV), which brilliantly ramps up the tension of court intrigue and then explodes. Why is 3.3 not so compelling? 1. Bragelonne's love-sickness to death stops being pitiable and merely becomes pathetic. He should have done like his father and taken to drink. 2. Fouquet is set up as the noblest and most king-like character in the book, someone worthy of the fawning artistic groupies and the devotion of men like Aramis (and someone who therefore must be taken out of the picture if Louis is to grow into the role of true king). But the portrait is not convincing. We see generosity--but it is not really generosity, it is impulsive prodigality, and one seriously questions his fitness to be superintendent of finances. We see lack of decisiveness throughout most of the story. We see bizarre machinations and secret tunnels that allow him to communicate privately with a mistress--reminiscent of the king indeed, but not in a particularly flattering way. In the end we see loyalty, when he storms the Bastille-- but this actual virtue is the virtue of a subject, not a sovereign. 3. Philippe's role in the story is so marginal. I realize that Dumas was weaving together many threads of real history, and the existence of a masked and possibly royal prisoner was just one, and that Dumas himself did not give book 3.3 its title, but Philippe's thread of the story is dropped so coldly, it cries out for a reprise. It is severely disappointing not to get one. 4. Colbert becomes a different person at the end of the book, and so does Louis. Maybe that's the point--in order for Louis to become a great and good king (and ditto for Colbert as minister), he first had to be a ruthless consolidator of power. But it is humanly unconvincing. (When Louis changes after Nantes-- changes his daily habits, shuns and arrests and declares new intentions toward D'Artagnan, relents toward Aramis-- I more than half expected D'Artagnan to discover that Athos had committed the perfect crime, substituting Philippe again for Louis. That would have been satisfying on so many levels.) It is also politically naive, in a dangerous way. Is it credible that one who craves power and seizes it by ruthless and underhanded means will then shift gears and become mild and just?

  22. 5 out of 5

    Abigail Hartman

    I came to The Man in the Iron Mask with no more experience with Dumas than what The Count of Monte Cristo could give me - that is to say, with no experience at all with the three musketeers. Naturally, this left me rather confused in the early days of this last D'Artagnan romance: I knew the history of "the squirrel" (which constitutes a massive spoiler, but what are you to do when writing a historical novel?), but none of the intrigues that the characters would keep referring to. In fact this may be a good th I came to The Man in the Iron Mask with no more experience with Dumas than what The Count of Monte Cristo could give me - that is to say, with no experience at all with the three musketeers. Naturally, this left me rather confused in the early days of this last D'Artagnan romance: I knew the history of "the squirrel" (which constitutes a massive spoiler, but what are you to do when writing a historical novel?), but none of the intrigues that the characters would keep referring to. In fact this may be a good thing, for I think I like the central characters more in their old age than I would have in their youth. The plot itself is weak, to say the least, having far more to do with D'Artagnan's last hurrah than the titular masked man. And goodness, but Dumas does ramble! I suspect his writing is more to be admired in the original French; it is difficult to take seriously any narration or dialogue that includes such lines as - "Do not act as if you were playing at the game children play at when they have to try to guess where a thing has been hidden, and are informed by a bell being rung, when they are approaching near to it, or going away from it." Eh? This is typical of the dialogue. I didn't feel that things picked up at all until about 400, 500 pages in, when Aramis and Porthos are fighting for their lives and people begin to drop like flies. Ah ha! Here are the celebrated musketeers! The slight redeeming quality of the novel is also the most memorable part of the series: the friendship, the code of loyalty and honor that binds the three (and D'Artagnan, who orbits them, being awesome. Like he does.). The characters, too, were not unlikable. I had little respect for Raoul, who was too lovesick to be of any earthly good, and Athos sat rather too piously on his hands; but D'Artagnan was a good egg, as was Porthos. I was even rather fond of Aramis, despite Robert Louis Stevenson's opinion of him. Still, they do not effectively raise the book in my opinion. Dumas isn't my favorite, and if I do have some strange urge to read him, I think I'll settle for the Count.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Scoats

    As I advance on my quest to read all the books I have obtained over the years, I have come to this.My copy of this book most likely came from a thrift store or flea market and cost almost nothing. I may well have had this in my possession for over 20 years; who knows. From what I've read, this is the final book of Dumas's Three Musketeers saga. There's a reason why the Three Musketeers have had such staying power. Wow. Dumas was a quite a writer. The plots and intrigues, mostly advanc As I advance on my quest to read all the books I have obtained over the years, I have come to this.My copy of this book most likely came from a thrift store or flea market and cost almost nothing. I may well have had this in my possession for over 20 years; who knows. From what I've read, this is the final book of Dumas's Three Musketeers saga. There's a reason why the Three Musketeers have had such staying power. Wow. Dumas was a quite a writer. The plots and intrigues, mostly advanced through clever dialogue, the observations... he was brilliant. Sadly for a 21st century reader, he is way too dense. Too many characters with similar names, too much old dialogue that needs to be followed and deciphered, too many old French societal structures that have to be guessed at, it's all too much. I suspected I would give up on this one, and I was right. What did surprise me was how the first 60 pages really sucked me in. If there wasn't still 95% of the book left to go, I might have stuck with it. 600 more pages of a hard slog is more than I am willing to do at this point of my life. Maybe when I am retired and no longer have business matters to deal with daily, I will download this to my tablet and give it the attention it demands. As for now, the hardcopy will be going to the Friends of the Tacony Library book sale.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Elsa K

    Other than the original "Three Musketeers" this is probably my favorite in the series. It only took me 8 or 9 years to read the whole series, finally! I liked it so much due to the main characters being our good ol' favorites of the four musketeers. Almost every page starring D'Artagnan was a good one! He continues to prove he is "the man" even in his old age. I also loved seeing Porthos in all his glory. One of the hardest parts for me was seeing Athos as such an old man totally dependent on hi Other than the original "Three Musketeers" this is probably my favorite in the series. It only took me 8 or 9 years to read the whole series, finally! I liked it so much due to the main characters being our good ol' favorites of the four musketeers. Almost every page starring D'Artagnan was a good one! He continues to prove he is "the man" even in his old age. I also loved seeing Porthos in all his glory. One of the hardest parts for me was seeing Athos as such an old man totally dependent on his son, Raoul. He and D'Artagnan didn't share as many poignant scenes and Athos wasn't really shining in his noble characterization. Raoul has never been a favorite of mine and he seemed pathetic in most of the book to me, I felt annoyed at the pain he caused Athos and the other musketeers. One of the strangest aspects of the book is that pertaining to the man in the iron mask. He was actually a pretty minor character. His storyline is never resolved in the book and that was the one thing that bothered me. I'm glad I got to see the conclusion of the musketeers lives and to spend a little more time watching their larger than life personas play out the history Dumas wrote for them. A good and fun read!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gary Dolman

    I tried to read this book as a child, but got nowhere with it, probably because it concludes a narrative thread that runs through a series of earlier novels, with numerous references to and dependencies on those. The edition I read this time (Wordsworth) had enough notes and explanations to resolve any difficulties and, (hurrah!), I finished it. I have to say that, although the concept is superb, I didn't enjoy it as much as, say, The Three Musketeers; the pace was more laboured and t I tried to read this book as a child, but got nowhere with it, probably because it concludes a narrative thread that runs through a series of earlier novels, with numerous references to and dependencies on those. The edition I read this time (Wordsworth) had enough notes and explanations to resolve any difficulties and, (hurrah!), I finished it. I have to say that, although the concept is superb, I didn't enjoy it as much as, say, The Three Musketeers; the pace was more laboured and the ending quite cumbersome to modern eyes. And I suspect that the character Raoul must have been the milkman's rather than the son of a musketeer. having said that, it's very much worth the read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    Since I seem to be giving up books at the moment. I probably will come back to this at some point, but the friend I've been reading it with agrees that the Frenchmen are not sassy enough for our readalong, and the whole thing lacks the charm of Musketeers, so we are swapping it out for the Scarlet Pimpernel as soon as either of us can get our hands on a copy. Decent book, but not fit for current purpose.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Reading is my Escape

    The Man in the Iron Mask     Wow. This book is nothing like the movie, at least the one I watched with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jeremy Irons. The end was so tragic and the actual prisoner in the iron mask was such a small part of the story. Seems to me it was the complete opposite in the movie. Huh. Go figure.   I'm glad I finally read this.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joya Cousin

    Excellent story, but I was a bit disappointed that the Hollywood version is only loosely based on this book. The man in the iron mask turns out to be a side plot, and not the centerpiece of this final Musketeers novel.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Γιώργος Μανι

    what the f did I just read?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    This is odd really, because until I started it I hadn't realised that it is just the last quarter of a much longer book Le Vicomte de Bragelonne. As such The Man In The Iron Mask contains a lot of plot points that require explanation, characters that have already been established, and other things we are supposed to have already read about. By coincidence I had seen the last part of the TV drama Versailles last year which touched on some of the story of this book and some of the real characters This is odd really, because until I started it I hadn't realised that it is just the last quarter of a much longer book Le Vicomte de Bragelonne. As such The Man In The Iron Mask contains a lot of plot points that require explanation, characters that have already been established, and other things we are supposed to have already read about. By coincidence I had seen the last part of the TV drama Versailles last year which touched on some of the story of this book and some of the real characters from the court of Louis XIV. Had it not been for this I would have been a bit more confused. Having said that, I have decided that Alexandre Dumas is one of my favorite classic authors. His books are so entertaining, often very funny, thrilling and full of high drama. Given that this is the last in the Musketeers trilogy of novels he wrote, there is plenty of heartache towards the end, especially concerning some of the characters we got to know in the beginning. On top of this is the almost unbelievable story of the man in the iron mask himself, and the political shenanigans that surround him. A lot of intrigue, revenge and adventurous goings-on indeed! All that remains now is for me to read the rest of the book it comes from, which I look forward to doing.

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